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Year in Review: Allegations of misconduct

Investigations, firings and resignations at some of the highest levels of teams and leagues followed allegations of misconduct across sports in 2021.

March

Steve Cohen, who purchased the New York Mets in October 2020, hires law firm WilmerHale to review the team’s workplace culture “with a focus on sexual harassment, misconduct and discrimination issues.”

April 30

Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar is fired as an MLB consultant and as a Toronto Blue Jays special assistant after an independent investigation into an allegation of a 2014 sexual misconduct incident.

July 1

The NFL fines the Washington Football Team $10 million after an independent investigation supports the allegations of a toxic workplace culture. In October, The New York Times reported that emails from Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden that were collected as part of the WFT investigation included homophobic and misogynistic remarks and racist statements about NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. Gruden stepped down on Oct. 11 and filed a lawsuit against the NFL a month later, accusing the league and Roger Goodell of engaging in “a malicious and orchestrated campaign” against him.

Oct. 1

NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird resigns amid a season that saw the dismissal or resignation of a team owner and CEO, a general manager and five head coaches and for allegedly perpetuating a toxic work culture. Marla Messing, who was president and CEO of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, is appointed as interim CEO. Two weeks later, Washington Spirit owner Steve Baldwin agrees to sell his stake in the team after media reports detail allegations of abuse from the team’s head coach, Richie Burke, who was banned by the league. Burke denies the allegations.

Nov. 4

The NBA opens an investigation after an ESPN story reveals that more than 70 former and current Phoenix Suns and Mercury employees described a toxic and sometimes hostile workplace created by team owner Robert Sarver, who denies the allegations.

Dec. 3

The Portland Trail Blazers fire Neil Olshey, general manager and president of basketball operations, after an investigation finds that he violated the team’s code of conduct.

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